It's time to Be Real about body image

16 August 2016

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? If you answered yes, you’re in the minority.

Issues surrounding body image and low self esteem have been a worldwide epidemic for a while now. And with the rise of social media, and more specifically image-based apps like Instagram and Snapchat, it’s only getting worse for the younger generations. This is why, in 2015, we helped to found the Be Real Campaign.

Why it was time to Be Real

The campaign, in partnership with Dove, was launched in response to the Reflections on Body Image report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Body Image chaired by MP Caroline Nokes and co-ordinated by YMCA. The report was published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image and Central YMCA in May 2012.

The report found that:

  • one in four of us are depressed about our bodies
  • globally we spend £6.5bn on diet pills
  • the average age for girls to begin dieting is eight!

And it’s not just girls:

  • the number of men taking steroids had doubled over the past 10 years
  • after reading men’s magazines, half of young men feel bad about their bodies
  • one in five have taken protein supplements to ‘bulk up’

All pretty shocking facts, which made us sit up and take notice.

What Be Real’s about

The campaign focuses on three main areas - real education, real health and real diversity.

Real education

We all know that insecurities can develop early. Part of the campaign’s work is making sure young people learn early on that they don’t need to be perfect. This is why schools and parents alike are being called upon to promote healthy body image from a young age and nurture young people to support eachother. The campaign provides resources and information, as well as raising awareness and understanding and developing partnerships to aid in this.

Real health

Health is not just a physical state. It’s about wellbeing in mind, body and spirit. Be Real is working to support the industry in promoting long-term healthy practices rather than short-term fixes. Being relaxed about the fact we come in all shapes and sizes, and prioritising health over appearance, are two messages being distributed and shared. We want to celebrate healthy and happy, not just quick wins.

Real diversity

Everybody is different and every BODY is different.

The aim of the campaign is simple - we want everyone in the UK to be body confident. We know how important physical and mental health is and low body confidence can affect everyone.

Whatever age, ethnicity, gender or size we’re all equal and it’s important that this message is filtered down through all walks of life.

Achievements so far

Since it’s launch, the Be Real campaign has chronicled and celebrated the men and women who have pushed back against body shamers, killed phrases like ‘the bikini body’ and helped people feel able to be happy in their own skin. It has responded to disturbing new social trends like the A4 waist challenge and welcomed plus-sized models - male and female.

Today the campaign is sponsored by bareMinerals, Facebook, Government Equalities Office, N Brown, New Look, Superdrug and YMCA with All Walks Beyond the Catwalk as a lead ambassador and new partnerships being developed all the time.

What next?

We know that low self esteem and negative body image isn’t going away any time soon. This year, our World of Good report showed that body image was the third highest concern amongst young people, so it’s vital we all continue getting Real about body confidence and helping everyone be healthier, happier and more fulfilled.

To find out how you can get involved with the Be Real campaign, visit